Following a very mild run up to Christmas, winter has truly arrived this week, bringing with it icy winds and heavy snowfall. With the cold weather set to continue into February, it’s important to remember that we are at greater risk of accidents and ill health in these conditions, and we should make our health and safety a priority.

To combat the cold, please read this guide on what actions you can take to stay safe and warm this winter.

 

Wrap up warm

Keeping warm during the winter is vital to keeping yourself healthy and boosting your morale when it’s cold outside. To keep warm and toasty, you should:

  • Wear lots of thin layers of clothes made from cotton or wool; these trap heat more effectively than one big jumper.
  • If venturing out into the snow, wear a warm coat, hat, gloves and scarf to keep the cold at bay. Wear thick socks and waterproof shoes with a firm grip in the sole; this’ll keep your feet warm and dry and prevent you from slipping on ice.
  • If you’re staying in, keep the house heated. Make use of your central heating, as well as electric blankets or electric heaters. Never leave an electric blanket or heater unattended and be sure to switch them off before going to sleep or leaving the house.

 

Travel safely

Travelling in the snow and ice can be very hazardous! The harsh conditions can cause a spike in traffic collisions and slippery ice can put you at risk of a fall. It is advisable to avoid travelling as much as possible in icy and snowy conditions, but if you have to travel, take the following precautions:

  • If you can, walk to your destination. Ensure you dress warmly before setting off and be aware of your surroundings, especially if walking by a road.
  • If you have to drive, ensure your car has been cleared of all snow and the windshield has been defrosted. Do not pour boiling water on your windshield, as this could crack the glass.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination; snow and ice can cause heavy traffic, especially during rush hour.
  • When driving, leave plenty of space between you and the car in front. Try to drive as smoothly as you can, avoiding sharp turns and high speeds, as these will put you at a higher risk of having an accident.
  • When driving in the snow, try to stick to main roads; although these will be busier, main roads are more likely to be gritted effectively, lessening your risk of skidding on ice.

     

Eat and drink well

A healthy diet is important all year round; however, the cold conditions can make us more vulnerable to illness. To keep yourself from getting poorly, you should:

  • Consume lots of hot drinks during the day; if you don’t want to overdo the caffeine, try drinking herbal or fruit teas (or a hot chocolate or two!)
  • Eat regular, healthy meals that will warm you from the inside out. Fill up on a hearty breakfast, such as porridge, and fuel yourself with hearty soups, stews or pies later in the day.

 

Helping the vulnerable

Elderly people and those with mental or physical disabilities can be greatly affected by the cold and snow. If you have a friend, relative or neighbour who is vulnerable to the cold weather, you can support them by:

  • Checking up on them: a simple phone call or knock on the door to see how they are can reassure them if they’re struggling in the cold.
  • Offering them food or hospitality: if they’re struggling to keep warm at home or cook hot meals, invite them round for a cuppa or some food. You can also cook a hearty dish like a pie or casserole for them, so they have nutritious food to last them a few days.
  • Offering to shop for them: If they are struggling to get out of the house or are concerned about having a serious fall, offer to pick up some food and essentials to see them through the snow and ice safely.